Mourning Dove White, my third great grandmother, is well known in genealogy circles because she is also the ancestor of a famous pop music singer, Elvis Presley. In the book “Elvis and Gladys," Elaine Dundy describes Mourning Dove as a “full-blooded Cherokee Indian." The name White derives from her clan’s relationship to the Americans in the early 19th century. In Southeastern American Indian society, white signified peace and friendliness; the color red, war.
Mourning Dove married William Mansell, my third great- grandfather, in Tennessee sometime before they moved to Marion County around 1820. Mansell was a soldier who helped Gen. Andrew Jackson defeat the militant Red Stick Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend. He also fought with Jackson in the first Seminole War in Florida.
Shortly after Mansell returned to Tennessee he took Mourning Dove as his wife and moved to the newly opened wilderness in northwest Alabama. They settled and began a family near what is now Hamilton in Marion County. They had a few children but only two sons and a daughter, Morning Dizenia, pictured above, lived past childhood.
Dundy says in her book that “the Mansells’ position and property in the community were such as to enable their daughter to marry the town’s leading doctor and landowner, Dr. Russell Porter Palmer," my second great-grandfather. They married in 1845.
In those days, marrying an American Indian woman meant gaining valuable knowledge and wisdom to survive in an unknown and unforgiving wilderness. In Dundy’s book, she states the men would gain these women’s “knowledge of the American terrain: of forests and prairies, of crops and game, of protection against the climate, and knowledge of medicine, lore and healing plants."
Morning Dizenie died about 1911 and is buried in the Palmer family cemetery outside Hamilton. When I look at the picture of my great-great-grandmother, I see that great maternal wisdom that was passed down from mother to daughter through the ages.